What to Do in Washington DC during COVID
Washington DC is reopening but there are still a few federal buildings that are not reopen yet.
If you’re looking for what to do in Washington DC during the pandemic, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate what is open in DC right now.
This page was updated on July 12, 2021
Please note that Washington DC has some guidelines for visiting:
- Face coverings must be appropriately worn while in public for those who are not vaccinated. Some businesses and many museums require masks regardless.
- There are city regulations for visitors, you can find more here.
What to Do in Washington DC during COVID
1. Take a Walking Tour
We offer a number of walking tours right now! All tours take safety precautions such as small groups, no interior stops and physical distancing.
You can join us for tours of:
- National Mall
- Historic Georgetown
- Lincoln’s Assassination
- True Crime & Scandals of Georgetown, or Embassy Row
- Ghosts of Georgetown
- & more!
2. Visit a Museum (that’s open!)
Many museums in DC have reopened!
As of July 12, 2021 it is easier to list what hasn’t reopened! Most museums in DC have reopened, though on limited hours and required timed tickets.
Starting Tues July 20 you will NOT need timed tickets to visit most Smithsonian Museums. Only the National Zoo and National Museum of African American History and Culture will require tickets.
You can find out more about how to get Smithsonian tickets on our article here.
Which Smithsonian Museums are Open right now?
- Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum
- National Museum of African American History & Culture
- Renwick Art Gallery
- National Portrait Gallery
- National Zoo
- American History
- American Indian
- Natural History
- National Museums of Asian & African Art
- Air and Space on the National Mall reopens July 30
- Anacostia Community Museum reopens August 6 (will not require timed tickets)
- Hirshhorn Museum reopens August 20
- National Postal Museum reopens August 27 (will not require timed tickets)
Other Museums Open in DC
- Military Women’s Memorial at Arlington Cemetery – daily 9am-5pm except Sundays 12pm-5pm
- National Building Museum – Friday – Sunday 11am-4pm tickets required for exhibits but access to Museum Shop and Gun Memorial Project do not require tickets.
- National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden – open daily, no tickets required 11am -4pm
- National Gallery of Art – daily, 11am -4pm, no timed tickets required.
- Planet Word Museum – open Thurs – Sunday 10am-5pm, free timed tickets (suggested donation) or walk up passes on the half hour
- Tudor Place Historic Home in Georgetown – Saturday & Sunday Noon – 4pm, timed tickets. Free, but donation accepted.
- US Holocaust Memorial Museum – Timed tickets required. Daily 11am-4pm except closed on Wednesdays.
- Ford’s Theatre – open Wed – Sunday 10am – 4pm with timed tickets.
- National Archives – Daily 10am – 530pm with timed tickets.
- White House Visitor Center – Wed – Saturday 11am – 4pm, free, no tickets required
- Glenstone Art Museum – free timed tickets | Thurs – Sunday 10am-5pm
- National Museum of Women in the Arts – timed ticketed required (only free on select days)
- Dumbarton House Museum – Friday – Sunday, timed tickets required. Grounds open for free daily
3. Explore the Memorials
All the memorials on the National Mall and Tidal Basin are open to visitors, though some of the small interior museums are closed.
The Washington Monument is also currently closed.
4. Walk through a historic neighborhood
A stroll through these neighborhoods offers photo ops, charm and if you walk with one of our self guided audio tours, a lot of history.
- Historic Georgetown
- U Street NW
- Old Town Alexandria
5. Take a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
Big Bus Tours have recently reopened in Washington DC with enhanced safety measures.
Bus Tours allow you to hop on and hop off at select sites with a guided narration as you drive between. This is a good way to see sites but also get around the city.
6. Become a Spy at the International Spy Museum
One of our favorite museums in DC has reopened! Here you have a chance to explore their new location and learn about the tricks of the espionage trade.
The Spy Museum is open Thursday to Monday.
You can read more about the International Spy Museum here.
7. Pay Respects at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington Cemetery is open and the Tomb of Unknown Soldier has reopened.
You can also visit the Women in Military Service Memorial & Museum though free timed tickets are required.
8. Eat at a local restaurant
DC has a lot of great places to eat! You can Support DC Businesses by ordering to go or eating on some of the outdoor patios. Many restaurants will have heated patio seating as the days get cooler.
Some of our favorite places to eat are:
- Ben’s Chili Bowl (U Street NW)
- Founding Farmers (Foggy Bottom)
- Queen Vic (H St NE)
- Martin’s Tavern (Georgetown)
- Hamilton (Downtown)
- Pizza Paradisio (Georgetown)
9. Learn about DC from a local Justice perspective
DC by Foot has partnered with Justice Walks DC to offer tours of Washington DC neighborhoods through the lens of Civil Rights and Social Justice.
Join Kate, a social justice educator, for a discussion about these neighborhoods and where available a chance to talk to community leaders and business owners.
NOTE: this is a tour that will discuss topics some may find controversial such as race, racism and economics. It is also a participatory, discussion based tour. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and thoughts.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book this as a private tour.
10. Visit the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
The National Gallery of Art offers a chance to see the only Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas, as well as Turners, Titians. Both the West and East Wings are reopen with no timed tickets required.
And you can still visit the outdoor sculpture gardens!
11. Heurich House Beer Garden
We are big fans of history & hops, so when the Heurich House Brewmaster’s Castle opened their garden, we could not have been more excited.
On Thursdays from 5pm-8pm you can have a 1921 style Happy Hour- featuring Senate Beer and Liberty Apple Cider.
Find out more here: https://heurichhouse.org/visithhm
12. See the theatre and museum at Ford’s Theatre
We’re still offering our famous Lincoln Assassination Walking Tours. And on some dates we have arranged tickets to tour inside the theatre.
Our walking tours do not enter any buildings and we end outside the famous theatre painting a picture for you. It is a great alternative for going inside!
12. Explore the Great Outdoors
In addition to the National Mall, Washington DC has a lot of open green space for exploring.
- Teddy Roosevelt Island
- National Arboretum
- Oak Hill Cemetery
- Congressional Cemetery
Our hiking expert, Bob, has written a whole post about finding hiking in the DC area.
13. Ride the Capitol Wheel
The Capitol Wheel at National Harbor is an observation wheel that takes you up 180′ in one of 42 climate controlled gondalas. Sunset rides are the most popular.
Keep in mind that National Harbor is a ways out of downtown but there are a number of things you can do there such as a public art walk, the Awakening statue, restaurants and more. Read our post on things to do in National Habor…
14. Go to an immersive Art experience at ARTECHOUSE
‘Renewal 2021’ opens March 15, 2021 and is inspired by DC’s Cherry Blossom season. You’ll walk through an industrial city 100 years in the future where nature struggles to survive. Leave with a sense of hope though seeing cherry blossoms peak through the plastic and concrete.